Decline-to-State Voters & the Environment

The fastest growing political affiliation in California isn’t Democrat or Republican. It’s Decline-to-State (DTS) or independent voters. Over the last decade, the number of people registering as DTS voters has nearly doubled. Meanwhile, neither Democrats nor Republicans have been able to achieve a majority-share of California voters.

The bottom line:  the survey results are very encouraging for pro-environment and progressive candidates running for office and provide little solace for anti-environment and conservative candidates looking to break a losing streak.

Now comprising more than 20% of the electorate and an estimated 80% of swing voters, the nonpartisan DTS voting bloc is an influential – if not deciding – electoral factor in many legislative, statewide, and ballot measure races. With the recent introduction of California’s new “Top Two” open primary, where party affiliation no longer precludes voters from voting for any candidate on the ticket, DTS voters will have a substantial impact on the outcome of both primary and general elections.

DTS Voters in California

Over the past several election cycles, statewide polling has shown decline-to-state voters routinely favoring Democratic candidates over Republicans by double-digits. Progressive candidates’ consistently strong performances with these important swing voters have been a major reason why California has become such a blue (Democratic) and green (pro-environment) state. Voters’ rejection of Proposition 23 in the 2010 mid-term elections serves as a prime example of voters’ willingness to support conservation policies, with DTS voters playing a key role in the successful outcome of the pro-environment position in that campaign.

This poll helps us better communicate with DTS voters and increase their participation and support for the environment while broadening the base of pro-environmental voters statewide. Based on the results of this data, California Environmental Voters Education Fund has rolled out a long-term DTS voter engagement strategy to begin building an infrastructure for environmental organizing in geographic pockets across the state where none currently exists, ultimately helping California maintain its leadership on environmental protection and progress.

You can view a summary of the poll here.

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